Publication - Strategy/plan

Social Security Fraud: Code of Practice for Investigations

Published: 14 Feb 2020
Social Security Directorate
Part of:
Equality and rights, Law and order, Money and tax

Document setting out how Social Security Scotland will conduct investigations into benefit fraud and use the Social Security Assistance (Investigation of Offences) (Scotland) regulations 2020.

Social Security Fraud: Code of Practice for Investigations
Chapter 5

Chapter 5


99. If a person is unhappy with the way they have been treated during an investigation or believe Social Security Scotland has fallen short of the standards set out in the Code of Practice they can make a complaint:

  • By Freephone:0800 182 2222
  • In writing:
    Social Security Scotland
    PO Box 10304
    DD1 9FZ

100. Social Security Scotland processes have been designed to make sure that all feedback will be valued and acted on. All feedback provided to Social Security Scotland will help it to improve and learn as an agency, and make the service better. Where possible, a complaint will be resolved quickly.

101. Complaints will always be independently and thoroughly investigated without prejudicing any other on-going claim to benefit a person may have. Individuals will be notified who is dealing with their complaint and at stage 2 of the complaints process, this will always be someone from a team that is not linked to either fraud or benefit processing, and who has had no prior involvement in the case.

Our complaints handling procedure has a two stage internal process and an independent investigation stage:

Stage One - Frontline resolution

102. Social Security Scotland aims to resolve complaints quickly and close to where the service was provided. This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong and immediate action to resolve the problem. A decision at stage one will be given in five working days or less, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

103. If the complaint can't be resolved at this stage, this will be explained. If an individual is still dissatisfied, they can ask for the complaint to be investigated further through stage two. This can be done immediately or sometime after the initial response is received.

Stage Two – Investigation

104. Stage two deals with two types of complaint: those that have not been resolved at stage one and those that are complex and require detailed investigation.

105. Social Security Scotland will:

  • acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days;
  • discuss the complaint with you to understand why you remain dissatisfied and what outcome is sought; and
  • Provide a full response to the complaint as soon as possible and within twenty working days.

106. Where an investigation will take longer than twenty working days, the individual will be informed. Revised time limits will be agreed and updates on progress provided.

Independent Investigation

107. After Social Security Scotland has fully investigated, if a complaint is still not resolved the individual may have the option of asking the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman (SPSO) to investigate. The Ombudsman will normally only be able to act if stages one and two of the complaint procedure has been completed. Additionally, there may also be some circumstances in which it would not be appropriate for the SPSO to investigate a complaint, for example a complaint about why an investigation had been instigated, the progress of an investigation or decisions made within the bounds of an investigation.

Contact the SPSO

  • In person:
    Bridgeside House
    99 McDonald Road
    EH7 4NS
  • By Freephone: 0800 377 7330
  • By post: Freepost SPSO
    (this is all you need to write on the envelope, and you don't need to use a stamp)

Complaints about Surveillance

108. If a complaint is about Social Security Scotland's use of surveillance powers, information can be found about how to complain to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal in the RIP(S)A Code of Practice[20].

109. For more information about this publication, contact: